Wild West: Florida State knocks off No. 1 seed Xavier, 75-70

Trailing by 12 points in the second half, the Florida State Seminoles rallied to stun the top-seeded Xavier Musketeers 75-70 on Sunday night in second-round play at Nashville in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region.

The Musketeers, holding a two-point lead at halftime, built it to 58-46 over the No. 9 Seminoles with 9:50 remaining.

With 5:37 left, they were still up by nine at 66-57 when the tide started to turn in Florida State’s favor.

From there, the Seminoles outscored the Musketeers 18-4 the rest of the way, earning a ticket to play in Los Angeles in the Sweet 16.

PJ Savoy hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 68 seconds left to give Florida State its first lead in the second half.

With the loss, Xavier became the second No. 1 seed to fall in the first week of the tournament.

The Musketeers followed the Virginia Cavaliers, who made history Friday night as the first No. 1 to lose in the Round of 64.

UMBC recorded a 74-54 victory over Virginia in the South Region that seemed to set the stage for a rash of upsets over the next few days.

By Sunday night, Florida State got into the act with a stirring finish against Xavier.

With the victory, the Seminoles will meet the No. 4 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs in one of two semifinals Thursday at the Staples Center in L.A.

In the other, it will be the third-seeded Michigan Wolverines against the No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies.

The winner of the regional finals on Saturday will earn a trip to the Final Four at the Alamodome from March 31-April 2.

Round of 32 at a glance

Weekend scores

x-Saturday’s games
y-Sunday’s games


y-(9) Kansas State beat (16) UMBC, 50-43
x-(5) Kentucky beat (13) Buffalo, 95-75

x-(11) Loyola-Chicago beat (3) Tennessee, 63-62
y-(7) Nevada beat (2) Cincinnati, 75-73

(Winners play in Atlanta on Thursday. Finals are Saturday)


y-(9) Florida State beat (1) Xavier, 75-70
x-(4) Gonzaga beat (5) Ohio State, 90-84

x-(3) Michigan beat (6) Houston, 64-63
y-(7) Texas A&M beat (2) North Carolina, 86-65

(Winners play in Los Angeles on Thursday. Finals are Saturday).


x-(1) Villanova beat (9) Alabama, 81-58
(5) West Virginia beat (13) Marshall, 94-71

x-(3) Texas Tech beat (6) Florida, 69-66
y-(2) Purdue beat (10) Butler, 76-73

(Winners play in Boston on Friday. Finals are Sunday, March 25).


x-(1) Kansas beat (8) Seton Hall, 83-79
y-(5) Clemson beat (4) Auburn, 84-53

y-(11) Syracuse beat (3) Michigan State, 55-53
x-(2) Duke beat (7) Rhode Island, 87-62

(Winners play in Omaha, Neb., on Friday. Finals are Sunday, March 25).

Two teams from Cincinnati remain in top ten in AP poll

Xavier sharp-shooter Trevon Bluiett is averaging a team-high 19.2 points per game, while shooting 42.4 percent from three-point range.

For the third week in a row, two Cincinnati-based teams have been ranked among the top ten teams in the nation, according to the Associated Press Top 25 released on Monday.

This week, the Xavier Musketeers (21-3) and Cincinnati Bearcats (21-2) are ranked fifth and sixth.

On Jan. 22, the two schools hit the top ten together for the first time since 1958.

While Xavier plays in the Big East and Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference, the two share some commonalities.

Neither plays football at the Power Five level. Xavier doesn’t play football at all, having dropped the sport in 1973 because of cost concerns.

Cincinnati plays football at the FBS level in the American, which is considered a Group of Five conference along with Conference USA, the Sun Belt, the Mid-American and the Mountain West.

Both programs are well-funded and play in front of passionate fan bases.

Cincinnati is playing this season at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky, with the team set to return home to a refurbished Fifth Third Arena in 2018-19.

Fifth Third is slated to undergo an $87 million renovation, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Xavier plays at the 10,250-seat Cintas Center, which opened in 2000-01.

Both head coaches — Chis Mack at Xavier and Mick Cronin at Cincinnati — are well-respected nationally and paid in seven-figure salaries.

Last year, according to a USA Today survey, Cronin made $2.2 million. Mack made $1.4 million.

Cronin’s salary was listed 21st among coaches whose teams played in last year’s NCAA tournament. Mack’s was 33rd.

Passionate fan bases at both programs likely will feel some anxiety in March and April when jobs come open at schools playing in Power Five conferences.

Because Power Five schools bring in the most revenue in Division I, they’re always a threat to poach a coach from a top basketball program like Xavier or Cincinnati.

For the time being, though, fans of the Musketeers and Bearcats can sit back and enjoy some of the best basketball anywhere.

AP Top 25

1 Villanova 22-1 Big East
2 Virginia 22-1 ACC
3 Purdue 23-2 Big Ten
4 Michigan State 22-3 Big Ten
5 Xavier 21-3 Big East
6 Cincinnati 21-2 American
7 Texas Tech 19-4 Big 12
8 Auburn 21-2 SEC
9 Duke 19-4 ACC
10 Kansas 18-5 Big 12
11 Saint Mary’s 23-2 West Coast
12 Gonzaga 21-4 West Coast
13 Arizona 19-5 Pac-12
14 Ohio State 20-5 Big Ten
15 Tennessee 17-5 SEC
16 Clemson 19-4 ACC
17 Oklahoma 16-6 Big 12
18 Rhode Island 19-3 Atlantic 10
19 West Virginia 17-6 Big 12
20 Michigan 19-6 Big Ten
21 North Carolina 17-7 ACC
22 Wichita State 17-5 American
23 Nevada 20-4 Mountain West
24 Kentucky 17-6 SEC
25 Miami 17-5 ACC